Karen J. Hedlund’s quest to be confirmed to the five-member Surface Transportation Board (STB) and give Chairman Martin J. Oberman a Democratic majority hit another speed bump Oct. 6 when Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) objected to Hedlund’s Senate floor confirmation.
Author: Frank N. Wilner
Surely you remember the Ash-Pan Act, named after Sen. Ash and Rep. Pan. In fact, it was a 1908 railroad safety law—its name identifying a steam locomotive appliance.
News Item: The Surface Transportation Board (STB) has found that among seven Class I railroads, five—BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Canadian Pacific (CP)-owned Soo Line, and Union Pacific—were revenue adequate for 2020. Norfolk Southern and CN-owned Grand Trunk Western were within a fraction of a percentage point of making the cut.
News item: Activist hedge fund investor TCI Fund Management Ltd. is looking to clean out and reform CN’s executive suite.
OCT. 6, 2021 UPDATE: If Democrat Karen J. Hedlund is to become a member of the Surface Transportation Board (STB) and succeed Republican Ann D. Begeman, she is still waiting, even though the Senate returned from its August recess on Sept. 13. Utah Republican Mike Lee has once again blocked her confirmation. His probable cause is explained below.
July 29, 2021, FRANK N. WILNER, reporting from Washington D.C. (Copyright© 2021, Railway Age): Another step in a lengthy, tortuous and torturous slog toward reducing—where efficient and safe—train crew size to just one locomotive engineer was achieved by three Class I railroads July 28 with the finalizing of four binding arbitration awards.
In 1913, three years prior to taking his seat on the Supreme Court, Justice Louis Brandeis wrote in Harper’s Weekly that “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”
A Pyrrhic win is a victory that inflicts such a devastating toll on the victor that it is equivalent to a defeat, because it takes a heavy toll that negates any true sense of achievement or damages long-term progress. The phrase originates from a quote from Pyrrhus of Epirus, whose triumph against the Romans in the Battle of Asculum in 279 BC destroyed much of his army and, while a tactical victory, forced the end of his campaign. If you examine it closely, the Aug. 28 U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit vacating an injunction that forced Sheet Metal, Air, Rail Workers-Transportation Division (SMART-TD) General Committees to bargain over crew consist size and redeployment is a Pyrrhic victory for the union.
WATCHING WASHINGTON, RAILWAY AGE MAY 2020 ISSUE: Into the valley of the shadow of death seem to be marching rail management and labor this round of national wage, benefits and work rules negotiations. Knights of the Round Table—indeed, any table—they are not. So mired are they in the muck of distrust during this COVID-19 crisis, they couldn’t even agree on teleconference negotiations.
RAILWAY AGE, APRIL 2020 COVER STORY: In crisis mode, America’s railroads appear sufficiently solvent, focused and managerially prepared to navigate through the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, other economic shocks, and whatever Congress and regulators may decide.